US President Obama’s government expressed concern that Palestinian Authority is on the verge of disappearing due to shortage of funding, including Israel’s withholding of taxes.
Washington has been in urgent talks with regional leaders as well as other stakeholders in the frozen Middle East peace process in a bid to try to release more funds, reports AFP.
“It’s true we’re very concerned about the continued viability of the Palestinian Authority if they do not receive funds soon,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
Psaki made clear those funds include the resumption of Israel transferring taxes it collects for the PA as per the 1993 Oslo Accords.
In January, Israel suspended $127 million in tax revenues as a response to the PA joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) to sue Israel for “war crimes,” in a unilateral move breaching the Oslo Accords which formed the PA.
The PA membership in the ICC, which takes effect on April 1, is meant to allege that Israel committed war crimes during Hamas’s most recent terror war, but many note it can backfire as it opens the PA and Hamas up to war crimes suits. PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction boasted of firing rockets at Israel during the war, with each rocket on civilian centers constituting a war crime.
Aside from the tax issue, donors have failed to make good on $5.4 billion promised at a Cairo conference in October to help rebuild the Hamas terror stronghold of Gaza after last year’s 50-day war.
Psaki warned that “We could be faced with a crisis that could gravely impact both the Palestinians and the Israelis, with potentially serious ripple effects.”
US officials have been in talks with counterparts from the EU, UN, Russia and the Arab League to discuss the situation. US Secretary of State John Kerry met Thursday with the head of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi, praising him as a “solid partner” in many issues including the Middle East peace process.
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Source: Israel National News
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